May, 2011

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Next Meeting

When:  Monday, May 9, at 7 p.m. Where:  Mounts Auditorium
Speaker:  Doris Happel, "Raising Canes"
Refreshments:  Audrey Abrams, John Strehl, Debra Rosen
Badge Plant:  Nancy Cohen
Raffle Table:  Begonias from a local nursery.
Exchange Table:  Bring a nice plant, go home with a nice plant

President’s Message

It looks like summer is here.  A few tips to remember:  check the soil in your pots every day.  If you are potting up the plants that seem to dry out overnight or even a few hours after you water, consider only potting up an inch or so for now.  The rainy season will be here soon enough, and too large a pot may give you the opposite problem- root rot from too much wet soil.  Remember to check the amount of sun your plants are getting- the sun is changing position every day.  Let’s share our hot weather tips at the meeting. Bring your questions on the plants that you propped at Nancy and Doris’ propagation parties.

Last month’s speaker, Dr Kathleen Burt-Utley, was enlightening as well as entertaining.  Her inspection of the flowers on the plant we know as B. popenoei led to an exciting discussion on the Yahoo begonia group. Kathy emailed to say she would send her original description of B. popenoei, based on her observations of the plant in Honduras and Guatemala.  She will also be sending descriptions of her recently described species.  And weren’t those tuberous species at the end of the program gorgeous?  As a reminder, if you borrowed any materials from our library, please return them.  I’d like to get the library started again, but many of our materials have “disappeared.”

This month’s meeting will be on cultivation of canes.  Canes are generally considered “summer” bloomers, although there is generally one or another in bloom all the time.  Doris Happel will give a program on Raising Canes.  Be sure to come for great pointers on growing gorgeous canes, and ensure your patio or garden will be full of beautiful begonia blooms well into the fall.

June’s program will also be on begonia horticulture.  Greg Sytch, who writes the horticultural column for The Begonian , will be here with a “Best Dog Wins” program.  Bring in those begonias that aren’t doing well (we all have them) and Greg will give you advice on bringing it back to good health or pulling the plug on life support.

July will be the summer potluck and silent auction.  You can donate plants, books, gardening paraphernalia, etc, to the club for the auction, or you can donate a percentage of your sale.  So start picking and encouraging those duplicate plants, so you’ll get the best price.

We’d like to get a couple of garden tours together before it gets really hot.  If your garden is looking great, please let me know.  We’d like to do one north tour and one central or south tour.  If you have any other ideas for field trips, tours, etc., speak up!

Please take a close look at your new issue of The Begonian.  Brenda Lines has a great article on tissue culture, and ABS President Cheryl Lennert is very complimentary to our branch in her President’s Message.  Way to go, Brenda! And kudos to Nancy, Doris, Johanna, and all those past presidents and board members for all their hard work that garnered this fame.  

Keep growing and learning about all things Begonia!

Virginia Jens
President, 2011

Around the Garden

Virginia wrote about taking care of your potted plants in this hot, dry, breezy Spring weather.  Humidity is only medium now, and the wind is sucking moisture out of potted and ground plants.  Now is the time to check your sprinkler system.  Inevitably, some sprinkler heads need to be replaced every year.  I found two rotating heads that were stuck in one position and also a small sprayer that had gotten clogged and was not reaching its intended distance.   If a head is not working properly, you can lose plants in one week.  With the current water restrictions, you are likely going to have to hand water landscape begonias in between watering days until we get some rain.  

The sun has moved far enough to the north that potted plants may need relocation from their winter positions.  Remember, here in Florida, the north side of the house gets summer sun! If you are going away for awhile this summer, move your potted plants under shrubs and trees where the sprinklers can reach them or ask a friend to check on them.  

Snails are starting to come back with warmer weather.  Once it starts to rain, the snails will really be back.  I use snail bait with the active ingredient metaldehyde.  Trail's End, Sluggo, etc.  They all work the same way.  This product is poisonous and small dogs have been know to eat it with tragic results.  I do not use the big pellets that look like pet food.  I use fine granules and apply it very thinly as it is intended to be used.  My dogs have absolutely no interest in it and I have never had a problem.  I apply it so thinly, that it would not be possible for a pet to lick up any significant quantity; but they are not interested in it anyway.  I mentioned a few months ago that the Begonia Discussion Group on Yahoo covered the topic of spraying caffeinated coffee on plants to kill snails. Caffeine is supposed to be toxic to snails.  I mixed up some instant coffee, put a little in a container, and put a snail in it.  The snail was still alive 12 hours later and eventually disappeared.  I'm sticking with metaldehyde.  Too bad because coffee is eco-friendly and cheap.

Doris Happel

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